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Georgia county discovers uncounted ballots

Bloomberg • 6 min read
Georgia county discovers uncounted ballots
A county in Georgia found about 2,600 uncounted ballots. A Wisconsin recount would cost nearly US$8 million.
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A county in Georgia found about 2,600 uncounted ballots. A Wisconsin recount would cost nearly US$8 million ($10.8 million). And New York is still counting ballots.

Georgia County Discovers Uncounted Ballots

President-elect Joe Biden’s victory margin in Georgia tightened slightly Monday after the state discovered that around 2,600 ballots went uncounted in a rural county.

While the discovery in Floyd County will bolster President Donald Trump’s tally by about 800 votes, it’s unlikely to change the state’s overall results significantly, said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager. Biden’s margin over Trump will fall to about 13,300 votes from 14,100.

Still, the gaffe could worsen an already tense situation in the state, which is conducting a hand recount of the Nov. 3 vote, which the Trump campaign alleges was marred by fraud. As of Monday, Georgia had recounted about 4.3 million of the 5 million ballots cast, Sterling said. It was during this audit process that election workers discovered the uncounted ballots in Floyd County, a Republican-leaning community in northwest Georgia.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger suggested that Floyd County’s elections chief should resign over the error, Sterling said. “Nothing is making us see any substantive change in the outcome,” Sterling, a Republican, said during a videoconference with journalists Monday afternoon. Yet “there is no good explanation as to why you wouldn’t upload those numbers.”

Raffensperger, also a Republican, tested negative for Covid-19 but has remained in quarantine in recent days after his wife tested positive. His office has insisted that the state’s election results are accurate despite repeated allegations from the president and his allies, which last week included a call from Georgia’s incumbent US senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, that Raffensperger should resign. Both senators are in run-off races with Democratic opponents set for Jan. 5. -- Michael Sasso

Wisconsin Recount Would Cost Nearly US$8 Million (4:29 p.m.)

The Trump campaign has until Wednesday to decide if it wants to spend an estimated US$7.9 million to challenge Wisconsin’s presidential election result, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said Monday.

“The legal team continues to examine the issues with irregularities in Wisconsin and are leaving all legal options open, including a recount and an audit,” Jenna Ellis, legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said in a statement.

The US$7.9 million is an estimate for recounting 3.2 million ballots cast Nov. 3. If the estimated cost exceeds the actual cost, the Trump campaign will receive a refund for the difference.

The unofficial margin of victory for Biden was 20,470 votes, or 0.62%, which makes the race eligible for recount if the Trump campaign chooses to request one. Because the margin is more than 0.25%, however, the Trump campaign must prepay the estimated cost of the recount at the time of requesting it.

The Trump campaign has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to inform the elections commission if it will challenge the state’s election count. The deadline to certify the state’s 2020 general election results, with or without a recount, is Dec. 1.

“We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount,” Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief election official, said in a Monday statement. “But we want Wisconsin’s voters to know we are ready,” she said. -- Stephen Joyce

New York Is Still Counting Ballots (3:48 p.m.)

Hundreds of thousands of ballots in New York have still not been counted, including those from parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn where only 50% to 60% of estimated results have been tallied.

The state was called early for Biden, who is ahead by a margin of more than 910,000 votes, and the newly counted votes won’t change the outcome.

While swing states were under pressure to have results just days after the election, New York hadn’t even begun the process of counting mailed ballots, said state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris. If New York were a swing state, “it would be thoroughly embarrassing for us,” he said.

The counting of absentee ballots began Nov. 10, the last day that they can be accepted. Some boards were still processing mail-in ballots up until this week, Gianaris said.

Along with a much higher volume of mail-in ballots this year, a new process allowing voters to cure minor technical defects on their ballot has slowed the counting, said state Senator Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat who chairs the Senate election committee.

New York is also one of a few states where the last vote counts, meaning that voters can mail in an absentee ballot and later choose to vote in person. In those cases, the absentee ballot is discarded, a process that takes time to sort through, Myrie said. -- Keshia Clukey

Cuomo Not Worried About Trump Vaccine Threat (1:39 p.m.)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not concerned about President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold a vaccine from his state.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday, Cuomo dismissed the idea as bluster from an outgoing president.

“That’s just Trump talking,” he said, “he’s going to be gone.”

In remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Friday, Trump threatened to withhold the vaccine due to comments Cuomo had made in September about having experts review it because he does not trust the president.

“As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exception of places like New York state,” Trump said, calling Cuomo’s remarks “political.”

Trump National Security Chief Pledges ‘Professional Transition’ (11:53 a.m.)

As Trump continues to refuse to concede he lost the election, his national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said there will be a “professional transition” at some point.

Speaking at the Soufan Center’s Global Security Forum Monday, O’Brien indicated that Biden appears to have won the election, something other top Trump officials have been reticent to say since the networks called the election more than a week ago.

“If there is a new administration, they deserve some time to come in and implement their policies,” he said. “We may have policy disagreements, but look, if the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner -- and obviously things look that way now -- we’ll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council.”

“The great thing is this is the United States of America,” he added. “We’ve passed the baton and had peaceful, successful transitions, even in the most contentious periods.”

The head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, has so far declined to recognize Biden as the president-elect, holding back millions of dollars in funding, secure communications channels and access to key government officials in charge of the coronavirus response. -- Simone Foxman

Coming Up:

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will speak about the economic recovery in Delaware Monday.

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